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Volunteers Extend Warm Welcome to Six-Year-Old Boy with Heart Disease

 | Published on 3/9/2017

Six-year-old Erblin Sllamniku and his father arrived from Kosovo last night. Father and son were very tired after their journey to the U.S. Volunteers from the Syosset Rotary Club greeted the family at Ronald McDonald House of Long Island, where little Erblin and his dad have settled in at their "home away from home." Erblin is a precocious little boy who likes to play with cars. He also liked the teddy bear that The Gift of Life, Inc. volunteers surprised him with.

Erblin is an active little boy who doesn't at all look like a child with a life threatening heart defect. Yet Erblin has a patent ductus arteriosis. Patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) is a heart problem that occurs soon after birth in some babies. In PDA, abnormal blood flow occurs between two of the major arteries connected to the heart. Before birth, the two major arteries—the aorta and the pulmonary artery—are connected by a blood vessel called the ductus arteriosus. This vessel is an essential part of fetal blood circulation. Within minutes or up to a few days after birth, the vessel is supposed to close as part of the normal changes occurring in the baby's circulation.

In some babies, however, the ductus arteriosus remains open. This opening allows oxygen-rich blood from the aorta to mix with oxygen-poor blood from the pulmonary artery. This can put strain on the heart and increase blood pressure in the lung arteries. If the PDA is not closed, Erblin risks heart failure, bleeding in the lungs, problems with lung development, or endocarditis (an infection of the inner lining of the heart). Fortunately, St. Francis Heart Center has accepted Erblin for medical treatment. His defect can be closed without the need for open heart surgery using a device called an occluder. Dr. Sean Levchuck, Chairman of Pediatric Cardiology at Saint Francis Hospital will perform the procedure for free and the hospital will donate most of their services. Working together, St. Francis Hospital and The Gift of Life, Inc. will allow Erblin to have a chance at a new life without heart disease. He will be able to live like other boys his age. Students from St. Anthony's High School in South Huntington will help host Erblin during his stay in America. For more pictures of Erblin, please visit The Gift of Life, Inc. member's only photo albums.


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